Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Robert Shiller

I recently attended a sold out lecture given by Yale University Professor Robert Shiller.  He's out on tour promoting his new book, FINANCE AND THE GOOD SOCIETY.

Real estate investors know him from the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Most people know him from his book and famous statement on the real estate bubble, IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE.

But what I found most fascinating about his nearly ninety minute presentation was his analysis on what he believes is the greatest risk for the U.S. economy going forward.


I've been writing about stagflation in this blog for years.  Here on my comments on stagflation from August 2009.  All his analysis on stagflation came as a surprise to me.  I was not expecting to hear the word at all that night.  I was lucky to meet Shiller after the presentation and he was as gracious and friendly as you would have guessed he would be from his media appearances.

BUT I did not have time to ask him the one question I wanted, concerning the use of Case-Shiller to measure the CPI and stagflation.  The theory was not mine.  It came from this blog post on stagflation and I think the author is really onto something big.

Perhaps another time....

I went to Professor Shiller's lecture to hear about his idea on the role of the investment banking industry in the new post-Obama economy.  During his presentation, he had to defend the work and business practices of Goldman Sachs about two dozen times, which gives you some idea who wears the economic black hats these days and who are the heroes in white in the academic world.

Like all of Professor Shiller's books, this new one is filled with kernels of ideas that make you think.  I often believe his books are written so the real meat of his analysis is intentionally put "between the lines." Perhaps this is the mischievous college professor playing a prank on readers he thinks of as students.  Or maybe this is his method to make readers think.  Either way, readers win.


For the record, I do not know Mr. Shiller and have no financial interest in his books.